Monday, January 03, 2011

Newbigin on Christiandom

"Much has been written about the harm done to the cause of the gospel when Constantine accepted baptism, and it is not difficult to expatiate on this theme. But could any other choice have been made? When the ancient classical world, which had seemed to brilliant and so all-conquering, ran out of spiritual fuel and turned to the the church as the one society that could hold a disintegrating world together, should the church have refused the appeal and washed its hands of responsibility for the political order? It could not do so if it was to be faithful to it origins in Israel and the ministry of Jesus. It is easy to see with hindsight how quickly the church fell into the temptations of worldly power. It is easy to point- as monks and hermits, prophets and reformers in all ensuing centuries have continued to point- to the glaring contradiction between the Jesus of the Gospels and his followers occupying the seats of power and wealth. And yet we have to ask, would God's purpose as it is revealed in Scripture have been better served if there had never been a "Christian" Europe, if all the churches for the past two thousand years had lived as tolerated or persecuted minorities like the Armenians, like the Assyrians, and the Copts? I find it hard to think so."
-Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks 100-101.

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